I’m sorry (not sorry) but is one of those soapbox Tara Talk blog posts where I have to get something off my chest. I’m hoping none of you mind indulging me in a little rant? Today’s doozy is all about perfect parenting. Sorry, I nearly choked on my coffee there. Perfect WHAT? There is no such thing as a perfect parent but I’m increasingly finding that people expect Mums and Dads to be perfect. The problems with this are 1) Who decides what is perfect? 2) Who gives a monkey’s uncle what people think about how you parent? I think we need a bit more parenting positivity in the world, don’t you?
If you haven’t worked it out yet I am on one about the pressures that parents are put under to do things the “right” way. Society, social media and yes, other parents sometimes, can have a lot to say about what others should and shouldn’t do. If that wasn’t bad enough, no-one can quite nail down what this perfect parent figure looks like. I’m not getting into a debate about any of these aspects, purely highlighting how much pressure parents can be placed under and how contrary the “advice” they are given/force fed can be. Parenting positivity when it comes to some people seems to be a foreign concept which is sad to say the least. Here are just a few points to illustrate how “you” just can’t win so shouldn’t try to.
Breast Vs Bottle
This is an ongoing saga and can get quite nasty. Personally I advocate for any woman to choose what is best for her baby when it comes to this. Yes, we are told that breast is best and personally I think it is a beautiful, wonderful thing. That said, I also think curled up with your wee one with a bottle, holding their hand, talking to them and singing to them as they enjoy their bottle feed is beautiful too. Each to their own on this one folks. How about some solidarity and parenting positivity?
- Oh, you co-sleep? How wonderful. You must have an amazing bond.
- Oh, you co-sleep? Isn’t that dangerous? You’re making a rod for your own back there.
- You don’t co-sleep? So you’ve abandoned your baby into a cot a few feet away. Cold!
- You don’t co-sleep? Good for you, you don’t want to spoil them!
When You Work
- You went back to work? Oh, so someone else raises them during the day?
- You didn’t go back to work? So you’re going to sit around all day while they get more and more clingy?
- You went back to work? Way to go you. You need you “you” time.
Oh, and Baby-Wearing
- You carried your baby around all the time. That child is going to be so needy!
- You used a sling? Oh, me too! Which one did you prefer?
You can see where this is going, can’t you? I think that the saying is “You’re damned if you don’t and you’re damned if you do”. Basically, someone is always going to have an opinion about how you parent, and that’s fine. They just need to keep that opinion you themselves. Talking through different options, looking at different perspectives, that is one thing. Brow-beating someone because of their parenting choices is something that really annoys me because it is so utterly unnecessary. When you are a single parent you don’t need any more pressures or any more guilt than you already have.
Parenting Positivity: My Advice
For what it’s worth I have two sets of advice to share. The first is for anyone who feels that it is ok to discriminate or bully, browbeat or generally be negative about how someone chooses to parent their child or children. Don’t do it. Your advice might be coming from a place of love or be a misguided attempt at helping but trust me, it will be doing more harm than good. Those who just like to pick apart how other people parent, either in person or more likely these days from behind a keyboard, just don’t. It isn’t kind. It can be hurtful and quite frankly, it has nothing to do with you. It is bullying, plain and simple.
My second batch of advice is to all of you awesome parents out there just trying to muddle through. I don’t care if your baby is head to toe in supermarket clothes or organic whisps of cloud. It’s not my business if your child watches CBeebies more than you’d planned because you just need a few minutes of quiet. You just need to do what is right for you and block out all of the other noise. This precious time is just for you and your family. Be the best you can be and if that means food in a jar (gasp!) you just do it. Here at Dreambear we are building a community of readers and social media followers, all of whom are real mums and dads who understand the single parenting life and are really supportive of each either. We strive for parenting positivity! We’re really happy that you’re here with us too.